Time Machine: 50 years ago, double backflip gone wrong leads to Vail Mountain ban on inverted aerials
10 years ago
March 16, 2013
Mikaela Shiffrin clinched the World Cup slalom title during her first full season of racing on the top circuit. She was 17 years old at the time.
Shiffrin beat Slovenian Tina Maze in a World Cup slalom race in Switzerland to clinch the title.
“The victorious Shiffrin, the American teenage sensation of Alpine skiing, fell to her knees when Maze couldn’t match her astonishing second run that wrapped up an improbably come-from-behind win,” the Associated Press reported. “After letting what seemed certain success slip away, the 29-year-old Slovenian — who had one of the best World Cup seasons — sobbed on the sideline as Shiffrin paraded with her crystal trophy.”
20 years ago
March 13, 2003
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Vail Resorts stock hit a new historic low, the Vail Daily reported. The stock, on March 12, 2003, was trading at $11.61 per share, “or just over half of its $22 initial offering price,” which came in 1997, the Vail Daily reported.
The company’s mountain division posted strong revenues, but the company’s new lodging division was suffering from lackluster performance.
“Travel jitters from war and terrorist worries caused Vail Resorts last month to announce it will be waiving cancelation fees at its hotels, as well as for advance-ticket purchases,” the Vail Daily reported. “The company also spun off management of its 3,000 beds of employee housing at its Colorado ski resorts to a private operator, calling management of that aspect of its business ‘problematic.'”
On Vail Mountain, “736,000 skiers were logged through Jan. 31, a 9.5 percent increase over 2002’s total,” the Vail Daily reported. “Beaver Creek’s skier totals jumped 19.3 percent, to 314,000 skiers.”
30 years ago
March 19, 1993
A good snow year made Colorado an attractive destination for skiers heading into the final months of the season, with April bookings at Vail and Beaver Creek up 40% over the previous season, a trend which was reflected around the state, the Vail Trail reported.
“From November 1992 to February 1993, state skier visits have increased 7.7% from last season,” the Trail reported.
The Trail quoted Harry Mosgrove, president of Copper Mountain and chairman of Colorado Ski Country USA, the state’s ski trade association, who said February was a bonanza snow month for skiers and the Colorado economy.
“Unlike other regions of the country, Colorado continued to get steady, almost daily doses of snow to powder up the slopes for our skiers instead of huge dumps making travel impossible,” Mosgrove said.
In February, 2.2 million skiers visited ski areas across the state, and total skier visits were at 7.1 million.
“In the record 1991-92 season, Colorado posted 10.4 million skier-day visits,” the Trail reported. “Vail again led resorts nationwide, posting more than 1.5 million skier visits last season.”
40 years ago
March 18, 1983
A drawing given to the town of Vail by renowned sculptor Claes Oldenburg was being kept under wraps, the Vail Trail reported.
“Oldenburg, a well-known artist whose abstract sculptures have been built in public places in cities in the United States and Europe, was commissioned in 1981 to submit a design for a sculpture to be erected in LionsHead,” the Trail reported. “Oldenburg visited Vail to scout locations and gather ideas for his sculpture and told town officials he would send a proposal. The date when town officials expected to receive the drawings from Oldenburg passed, and the officials were beginning to worry a little. Then, about two weeks ago, the long-awaited sketch arrived.”
But the drawing wasn’t being shared with the community, the Trail reported.
“A request by the Vail Trail this week to see it was turned down by Town Manager Richard Caplan,” the Trail reported. “Caplan didn’t say exactly why he and other town officials are sitting on the drawing, but said he is concerned about the public reaction to the proposal, and worried that it might be hard for some people to swallow.”
50 years ago
March 14-15, 1973
The Rocky Mountain Freestyle circuit’s Western Championships took place on the Look Ma run on Vail Mountain, an event that judged freestyle skiers in three different categories — trick and ballet, aerial acrobatic, and freestyle/mogul skiing.
A $7,200 prize purse was given out at the event, which included a 1973 Vega Hatchback. Scott Brooksbank won the car, finishing first in the overall category. The freestyle title went to Ed Ferguson of Boise, Idaho; Futz Garhammer of Germany won the trick and ballet skiing competition and Mike Glazier and Roger Evans won the aerial competition, executing a synchronized backflip.
Scott Magrino suffered a devastating injury — severing his spinal cord after landing on his head in a double backflip attempt — an incident that later led to Vail Mountain placing a moratorium on all aerial “hot-dogging” on the mountain.
The New York Times wrote about the incident:
“This is show-off, hot-dog skiing, an exhibitionism in which the competitors perform mind-boggling stunts before a panel of judges that subjectively awards point scores from 0 to 20 in three categories called ballet, free‐style and aerial,” the Times wrote. “These athletes do everything but headstands on their skis to the loud applause of growing audiences and ski equipment manufacturers … One worrisome note crept in last week at the Western championships in Vail, Colo., when Scott Magrino landed on the wrong place while attempting backward somersault. He lies paralyzed in the Craig Rehabilitation Center at Denver. As a consequence, the play-safe sponsors, conscious of the American Broadcasting Company’s 18 cameras on the scene here plus television teams from Italy and Japan, have banned flips — somersaults off artificial snowmounds — and helicopters — 360-degree turns while airborne.”
The Vail Trail quoted Vail Associates Board Chairman Pete Seibert in discussing a similar ban on Vail Mountain.
“Vail Associates received assurances that extra precautions would be taken at Vail for the Chevrolet-Skiing Magazine Rocky Mountain Regional Freestyle Championships,” Seibert said. “But, despite these extra precautions, a very tragic accident occurred. As a result of these accidents, it’s about time that someone said stop … we say stop and evaluate.”